AbbVie is giving up its patents on a combination drug that is being studied as a coronavirus treatment, becoming the first major drugmaker to drop its rights to make money from a drug that might be used during the pandemic.
The US drugmaker will no longer enforce patents relating to Kaletra anywhere in the world for all formulations, according to the Medicines Patent Pool, a UN-backed non-governmental organisation.
The company gave notice of the change last week, according to a document seen by the Financial Times, after Israel moved to issue a compulsory licence for the drug combination’s use against the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus that is spreading worldwide.
Kaletra is a combination of two antivirals — lopinavir and ritonavir — and is usually used to treat HIV. But some doctors have turned to it for treating patients with coronavirus, and its efficacy is being studied in several clinical trials, including one by the World Health Organization.
Stat News, a trade publication, reported last week that the company would allow Israel to purchase generic versions of the drug. AbbVie declined to comment.
The company had already donated a supply to the Chinese health authorities in January.
What AbbVie has chosen to do “isn’t terribly common, certainly not globally”, said Ellen ‘t Hoen, director of Medicines Law & Policy, a non-governmental organisation. Kaletra has patent protection until at least 2026 in certain territories, according to MedsPaL, a database.
非政府组织Medicines Law & Policy的负责人艾伦•霍恩(Ellen 't Hoen)表示，艾伯维选择做的事情“并不很普遍，肯定不是全球性的”。数据库MedsPaL显示，克力芝在某些司法管辖区的专利保护至少要到2026年。
The pandemic has caused 12,000 deaths so far and infected nearly 300,000. There are no approved treatments.
A Chinese study of Kaletra, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week, showed disappointing results, with no effect on the progression of the disease.
上周发表于《新英格兰医学杂志》(New England Journal of Medicine)的一项关于克力芝的中国研究显示，结果令人失望，克力芝对病情的进展没有效果。
But for patients who started the drugs less than 12 days after their first symptoms, the mortality rate was 15 per cent, compared with 27 per cent over all, and the authors suggested it may work better if combined with other antiviral agents.
Pharmaceutical companies are racing to develop treatments and vaccines for the virus. So far, scientists have most hope for remdesivir, a drug developed by Gilead as a potential treatment for Ebola. Hospitals in the US are also stockpiling generic antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which have shown some positive impact in small studies.
“AbbVie did the right thing,” said Ms ‘t Hoen. “But it foremost shows the power of the measure. Benefits will be immediate for people living with HIV, because generic supply is now possible everywhere in the world. The usefulness for Covid-19 still needs to be demonstrated and trials have started.”